Full-scale sea monsters on display in new Auckland Museum exhibition

It's an exhibition 180 million years in the making, offering a glimpse into the sea monsters that once ruled the underwater world.

Auckland Museum's Sea Monsters: Prehistoric Ocean Predators has opened and features never-before-seen fossils and life-sized cast skeletons of ancient creatures of the deep.

Dinosaurs may have once ruled the land but millions of years ago, our oceans were home to creatures just as terrifying.

A 13m long Elasmosaurus and a 9m prognathodon - these are sea monsters that once hunted the depths of the sea.

"You can feel dwarfed by some of the replicas," Auckland Museum's Head of Exhibitions Kelly Bewley told Newshub.  

There are more than 70 different displays showcasing wonders of the prehistoric aquatic world at Auckland's Museum, including huge life-sized casts imitating the exact makeup of the gigantic specimens.

The exhibit was developed out of the Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney. New Zealand is the tour's third stop and it will be in the country until the end of October. 

Bewley said it's a complex process bringing the replicas to life. 

"Innovative technologies are employed now - some VR sculpting, and also sculpting and scanning that's done in the Northern Hemisphere and sent to Australia for printing," Bewley said. 

But it's more than just something to look at, with much to be learned at the exhibition too. 

"There's a foundational layer of paleontology - so you get to learn about Mary Anning, one of our first paleontologists," Bewley said. 

The multimedia elements are fun everyone can get involved in, and include an advanced colouring-in station where creative artworks can be scanned as pictures to fill a fish tank. 

It's just one of the elements that making the experience extra special for kids. 

"The varied types of displays, they can free roam around four of our galleries, and just that level of interaction that you can get here," Bewley said. 

"It's exciting, it's informative and super engaging."